Posted on Wednesday, January 23 @ 15:06:04 Eastern by Nicholas Tan
1. Pause, pause, pause.
Ni No Kuni's real-time battle system doesn't stop while you're flipping through commands, and sometimes the action can get so frantic that you may need to take a moment to compose yourself. Maybe the camera isn't centered or you haven't yet decided how to best counterattack a boss who is about to cast a devastating spell against your entire party. Whatever the case may be, the system pauses while you're selecting a spell or swapping a character, the latter of which is the better option of the two. Just tap L1 at any time, even if you aren't swapping familiars, to give yourself some breathing room and cancel out when you're ready. As you get accustomed to the battle system, you'll find that you won't need to pause as often... apart from boss battles perhaps.
2. Heal with healing stones, Healing Touch outside of battle, and HP-recovering items.
The first healing stone you'll encounter is near the entrance of the Deep Dark Woods, which serves an as the game's introductory dungeon. Since healing stones recover all of your party's HP and MP, these are perfect rest stops as well as localized grind areas where you can use magic liberally, especially early in the game when MP is scarce.
Once Oliver learns the instant transportation spell, Travel, there's little need to restore health by paying money at an inn. Instead, just teleport to the entrance of the Deep Dark Woods (or another location with a healing stone right at its start) to heal up your party. However, still go to the inn at every location at least once, as doing so helps fill the Regions of the World section of The Wizard's Compendium.
As for healing outside of battle, if there are no healing stones nearby, stick to Oliver's low-cost Healing Touch spell (only 3 MP). If you need a substantial heal in combat, it's usually better to save your MP and use healing items, particularly the Cheeseburger or Pixie Dew in fights near the end-game. Otherwise, the familiar-based abilities Healing Rain and Aurora Curealis (which also heals ailments) are strong choices for healing spells since they cover the entire field and have low charge time.
3. Conserve MP and MP-recovery itmes for tough battles.
Most bosses have a healing stone right before them, but you never know when you might need some MP to get out of trouble. As stated earlier, MP is a precious resource and MP-recovery items even more so. You'll be lucky to find strong coffees, cappuccinos, and espressos, so conserve them for when you need them during difficult boss battles. They're also quite expensive as vendors begin to offer them in their shops. One neat tip is to collect springwater near pools of water on the world map early in the game, and then purchase two iced coffees and create strong coffees from them using alchemy. This effectively reduces the cost of the strong coffee from 800 G to 400 G apiece.
That said, your familiars and other party members should have no trouble defeating enemies without using MP at all, by assigning "Don't Use Abilities" in the Tactics combat menu. Just remember to reassign their Tactics to "Keep Us Healthy" or "Do As You Like" during boss fights. Either that or make vigilant use out of the All-Out Attack command. Sometimes hitting fast and hard is the best defense, so you'll want all your support to have enough MP to cast high damage-dealing spells.
4. Gather a party of at least three familiars with both high offense and defense.
Even if you choose the Easy difficulty setting, you'll notice that every party member is fairly weak when it comes to defense, and several unlucky hits can put them out of commission in ten seconds flat. The main reason why familiars are important is because those with high offense and defense can keep battles short and ensure that you don't have to worry about your party members falling in battle often. Many parts of Ni no Kuni can feel like an endurance run due to the high number of fights in between healing points, so it's vital that everyone stays conscience until then.
Several favorites of mine are the Puss in Boats (who can say no to a pirate cat?) whose base form is the Purrloiner (found near Skull Mountain), the Steam-Man whose base form is a Tin-Man (found near Hamelin), the Underripe Buncher whose base form is the Green Buncher (found near Al Mamoon), and the Eldritch Empress whose base form is Ice Maiden (found near Yule). All of these have very strong offense as well as the defense to back it up.
The Puss in Boats, in particular, as an incredibly high attack speed and attack power once it's properly leveled. The Steam-Man and Underripe Buncher have strong overall physical and magical defense, so I recommend placing them as the first familiar for AI characters ("first familiar" means the leftmost assignment in a character's party of three familiars). Finally, make sure that Oliver and least one AI character has a familiar with spells that can heal the entire party: Healing Rain and Aurora Curealis are godsends.
5. Get as many back approaches as possible.
Approaching an enemy on the field while it has its back turned gives you a few seconds to thrash on the opponent team without repercussion. This makes it easy for your party to fight one fewer enemy, which means less healing and a much easier time surviving the onslaught of enemies between your party and the next healing point. Near the endgame, this allows Oliver to pull off powerful screen-clearing spells without fear right at the beginning of battle.
Most enemies on the field will detect you from a distance and rush in on your location, but in many instances, you can wait from a safe distance and sneak in while its back is turned away. Also note that immediately after a battle, there are a few seconds where the game doesn't detect a back approach. So if there is an enemy close by, wait a few seconds before attempting to get a back approach. Of course, this technique becomes much simpler if enemies start running away from you due to your party being at a much higher level than they are. Unless the enemy is particularly fast on the field, you should be able to catch it in a foot race.
Several merit badges make back approaches easier to obtain. The Jack-in-the-Box, which costs 2 merit cards, increases the radius at which the enemy won't be able to detect you, effectively widening any attempts. To catch enemies while they are running away, the Jack Be Nimble merit award will help you close the gap for a measly 1 merit award.